Remaking the Remake of a Remake: Plagiarism or Inspiration?

The Hunger Games

Americans always have loved remakes. We have been remaking movies since The Great Train Robbery remake, which came out in 1904, one year after its inspiration. As with many remakes, however, the remake was a complete flop. Some people argue remakes are just a lack of new ideas; others believe they are just a fun new spin on an old story.

Lately, remakes have made a huge comeback with everything being remade. Now we have movies for all of our comic book heroes, our favorite novels, and even true stories. Cinematographers have been working nonstop to try to give a new spin on everything we know and love.

The latest of these remakes is The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is, wait for it, a remake of a book, which has a story that is nearly identical in parts to a Japanese movie called Battle Royale which is a remake of a book under the same title.

Most of us tend to agree there is no such thing as an original idea. Inspiration is also another huge thing often mistaken for plagiarism in entertainment. Sometimes we see something that really speaks to our hearts, and we, sometimes even subconsciously, put a similar idea into our own works. In music, this is far more acceptable than in movies. Singers often will be completely upfront with who their inspirations are and what they inspired. In movies, however, originality of plot is one of the main selling points.

Where is the line between being inspired by something and copying it? A blogger named Connor Turnbull tried to tackle this question by saying “One is all about gaining motivation whereas the other is mindlessly duplicating.” Turnbull seems to suggest in his article that copying and being inspired is a gray line that only you can decide for yourself.

Honesty is key when dealing with this issue. Think to yourself how much credit you owe to your inspiration. Does your work just have a similar vibe, or can you draw clear and common parallels between the two? If it is the second, then perhaps take a second look at your work and try to personalize it more, separate it from its original to ensure you won’t be accused of stealing someone else’s work.

Art is a train of people being inspired by one another. When we create something, we put into it what has most deeply affected us. The person who made what most deeply affected us put into their work what most deeply affected them. This goes on back in history, making our art of today like a collage of the art from all time.

One important thing to remember about remakes is remaking a work doesn’t destroy the original. Remaking something only shows us a glimpse of how someone else saw some of our favorite works. Think of remakes as simply an exercise in empathy. Go ahead, put yourself in someone else’s shoes.